Cellphone calls linked to murder of policewoman
Calls between two cellphones, both belonging to one of the men charged with the murder of a policewoman, have led a state prosecutor to contend that one of the devices was in the possession of her policeman husband, who is alleged to have plotted the hit.
During a gruelling cross-examination in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday, co-accused Ndiphe Soqokomashe, 48, evaded questions put to him by state prosecutor advocate Marius Stander, even refusing to explain inconsistencies in his evidence-in-chief.
Stander put it to Soqokomashe that, on the evening of November 9 2015, he and Mlungisi Tsitsi, 37 – who was stationed at the Motherwell police station at the time – had allegedly plotted the murder of Tsitsi’s estranged wife, Nomathamsanqa Ivy Mtwesi, 36.
This was after cellphone records showed that at least 10 calls were made between the two men.
Soqokomashe, along with Tsitsi, Thembani Rorwana, 34, Msindisi Bhebhula, 27, Sicelo Mbanga, 31, and Luyanda Nyumka, 37, are accused of plotting the murder of Mtwesi.
They have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, murder and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
In September 2015, Tsitsi allegedly became aware of a relationship between Mtwesi, from whom he had been estranged since 2013, and another man.
Tsitsi allegedly then approached Soqokomashe with a view to having his wife killed.
It is alleged that, after agreeing to supply the gun, Soqokomashe was the middleman between Tsitsi and alleged hitmen Mbanga and Nyumka, and that Bhebhula was the getaway driver.
On the morning of November 12 2015, Bhebhula, Nyumka and Mbanga allegedly waited for Mtwesi, a constable at the Zwide police station, to finish work, and followed her.
When she arrived home, Nyumka and Mbanga allegedly fired on her while she was still behind the steering wheel.
Soqokomashe said on Wednesday that the Cell C number Stander used to illustrate the link between him and Tsitsi was used by a driver he employed to collect and deliver empty bottles for his business.
But he could not say why, on that specific night between 7.48pm and 12.12am, there had been 11 calls between his MTN number and the Cell C one also registered in his name.
Pushed for an answer, he said: “I can’t say. He [the driver] is a person assisting me and working for me.
“This could have been the purpose of the conversations.”
But Stander put it to him that there was no driver and that the Cell C phone was in the possession of Tsitsi, which Soqokomashe denied.
“You and [Tsitsi] used that phone to plan the murder of the deceased that night.”
He presented Soqokomashe with other cellphone records which showed how the Cell C phone was picked up by various cellphone towers in and around Motherwell and Veeplaas leading up to the November 12 murder.
Records of a phone registered in Tsitsi’s name showed that the two phones were in the same places at the same time and that between November 3 and 12, almost 50 calls had been made between Soqokomashe’s MTN and Cell C phones.
Asked how this would be possible if, as Soqokomashe said, the Cell C phone was in his possession when not with his driver, Soqokomashe said he did not want to give an explanation.
“My proposition is that [Tsitsi] was in possession of the [Cell C] phone at all times,” Stander said.
“No, that isn’t so,” Soqokomashe said.
Stander put it to Soqokomashe that Tsitsi did not want the police to find out he was in contact with Soqokomashe and that was why Tsitsi had the Cell C phone with him to contact Soqokomashe.
Soqokomashe said he did not agree, and that he and Tsitsi were partners in the bottle-collecting business.
This was why they were in contact, albeit through different contact numbers, he said.